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Bill Morningstar announces retirement from Elon

Legendary Elon coach and teacher to step down next May after 41 years at Elon.

After serving his alma mater as a student-athlete, teacher and coach – his tenure at Elon University spanning nearly half a century – Bill Morningstar ’64 will retire from his post as the Phoenix’s director of golf and head men’s golf coach effective at the end of the 2013 season.

“Over the 41 years that I’ve been at Elon, along with the four years that I was a player here, there were so many people who touched my life in so many ways,” Morningstar said. “I am extremely grateful to Bill Miller for giving me the opportunity to return to Elon as an assistant basketball coach. Without him, I never would have spent my entire career at Elon or had the chance to also coach cross country and golf.

"I've been so fortunate to have so many good people around to make my stay of 41 years here at Elon feel more like time with my family than time at work. I feel that if you love what you do, your job never feels like work in the typical sense of the word.”

Athletics leaders praised Morningstar’s commitment to developing the minds, bodies and spirits of several generations of Elon student-athletes.

“I want to thank Bill for his service and congratulate him on all of those he has inspired during his tenure,” said Elon Director of Athletics Dave Blank. “Bill is truly one of the icons of Elon University Athletics and his contributions and accomplishments are greatly admired and appreciated by the Elon family. Bill has been a critical component of our department’s athletic and academic success.”

A four-year letterwinner on the Elon men’s basketball team, Morningstar helped the Fightin’ Christians to a 74-40 record during his playing days. As a senior, he led Elon to a 21-7 mark in 1963-64, which included a streak of 13 consecutive wins. He graduated from Elon with a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1964.

After earning a master’s degree in education from Lynchburg College, Morningstar returned to his alma mater in 1972 as an assistant men’s basketball coach and head men’s golf coach. In his first five seasons at the helm of the Elon golf program, Morningstar guided Elon to a 91-14 record.

His teams consistently finished high among the NAIA ranks in the 1970s and 1980s. Under Morningstar's direction, Elon advanced to the NAIA National Tournament 16 times in 19 years, finishing among the nation's top-10 teams each time. He has coached 65 all-conference performers, 43 all-district selections, 18 All-Americans and 14 Golf Coaches Association of America All-America Scholars.

Morningstar's 1982 men’s golf team was his most successful at Elon and brought the program more national recognition. After capturing both conference and district titles, Elon won the NAIA National Championship at the Alamance Country Club in Burlington, N.C., besting Texas Wesleyan. Morningstar was named NAIA National Coach of the Year for his efforts.

A 1988 inductee into the Elon Athletics Hall of Fame, Morningstar has been named a conference coach of the year 15 times during his tenure, including a streak of seven straight years from 1976-82 when Elon was a member of the Carolinas Conference. He was inducted into the SAC Hall of Fame in 2002. Morningstar was also inducted into the NAIA Coaches' Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Halifax County-South Boston Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.

In its first season in NCAA Division II, Morningstar led Elon to a conference title while picking up coach of the year honors yet again. During Elon's first official NCAA Division I campaign, Morningstar led the Phoenix to six tournament titles and a No. 27 national ranking. During his career, Morningstar served as president of the NAIA Golf Coaches' Association and as tournament director for two NAIA National Tournaments.

As the head men’s basketball coach at Elon from 1979-86, Morningstar won 101 games, which ranks sixth all-time in program history. Along with Elon Athletics and College Football Hall of Famer Richard McGeorge, Morningstar was one of four honorees in 2011 to be given the Distinguished Service in Sports Award by the Alamance County Sports Development Council.

Dan Anderson,
12/12/2012 2:45 PM